Conyers condemns Farrakhan diatribe

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) condemned an anti-Semitic speech Louis Farrakhan delivered at an event Conyers attended.

“Last Friday, I attended a speech by Minister Louis Farrakhan at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, Michigan,” Conyers, the longest-serving African American serving in Congress, said in his statement released Thursday. “During this speech, Minister Farrakhan made unacceptable racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic statements, which I condemn in the strongest possible terms.”

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Conyers said he had expected Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam group to use the speech to address revitalization in the Detroit area.

“In previous days he had discussed efforts to revitalize our city by purchasing property and investing in blighted neighborhoods,” Conyers said. “Regrettably, he used this opportunity to promote views that have no place in civilized discourse.”

In his May 17 speech, Farrakhan repeatedly referred to Jews as “Satanic” and suggested they were controlling President Obama.

“The fact that Minister Farrakhan has engaged in important charitable work aimed at expanding economic opportunities for underserved communities does not excuse these statements,” Conyers said. “I sincerely offer my apologies to my constituents and others who also may have been offended by the minister’s words.”

The Anti-Defamation League welcomed Conyers’ statement.

“Your public outreach exemplifies the notion that what hurts one of us, offends all of us, and helps empower Americans to stand up against injustice and for equality for all,” ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said in a letter to Conyers.